Why Chennai City will bank on home comforts and prolific strikeforce in I-League photo finish
Written by: Ali Shibil Roshan
The Tamil Nadu outfit need a win at home against Minerva Punjab to assure their maiden top flight title.
Going into the final day of the I-League this season, we are once again at a crossroads, awaiting the ultimate victors similar to last season. Table-toppers Chennai City host defending champions Minerva Punjab in their own backyard. However, East Bengal also travel to Kerala to face Gokulam, to ensure that the title race goes on until the last minute of the two games.
Eyes from pundits and fans alike will be glued to the two simultaneous kick-offs, only to expereince if Chennai City can follow in the footsteps of Aizawl FC and Minerva Punjab, or will it be the Red and Gold Brigade who will finally overcome their title drought.
Chennai City have been riding on the brilliance of their Spanish contingent, which has been delivering postive results since the league began. The southerners have three players in the list of the top 10 goalscorers in the league this season; Pedro Manzi, Sandro Rodriguez and Nestor Gordillo, who have scored 37 goals between them. They will once again look at the trio to step up and deliver in their final game.
Although, Chennai are favourites to win the game, Minerva are defensively strong, no questions asked. If Chennai have scored the most number of goals this season, the Warriors have conceded only 16. Apart from Real Kashmir, Sachin Badadhe's side are the only ones to have held Chennai City to a goalless draw. But, the question remains if the Warriors can repeat the feat on Saturday?
Of course, there will be pressure on Chennai City; huge pressure indeed. Not just Chennai, Minerva Punjab will also be under pressure. They will walk onto the pitch determined to do whatever it takes to take down their opponents. They will have to at least try, if not succeed. However, a well-intentioned, but ill-timed tweet from their owner Rajit Bajaj has forced things to take an unexpected turn.
Needless to say, the game is going to be a stern test of Chennai's attack against a resilient Minerva Punjab back four. The match will be decided in the final third of Minerva Punjab. Chennai City will dominate the midfield, string passes together and move their players forward, in an attempt to find the crucial goal that could make the difference. Expect Minerva to defend in numbers, they have only scored nine goals so far this campaign and have spent the lion's share of time defending.
Chennai have played nine home games this term. They have won seven, drawn one and lost a game against Real Kashmir. Only once in these games have they failed to score a goal, in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Kashmir. Chennai's good home record is a worry for Minerva and it will be a mammoth task for them to restrict their ruthless, clinical attackers from scoring goals.
This, Chennai City Vs Minerva Punjab, is the main plot. The rest are sub plots, depending on the outcome this game produces. East Bengal loom behind, eagerly waiting, patiently hoping for Chennai to slip up, to grant them a chance to finally lay their hands on the trophy they have coveted for what seems an eternity.
Indian Football is complicated at times. But the ball is on Chennai's court, and they will play their home game against Minerva Punjab at Coimbatore, 500 kilometres away from Chennai, hoping thousands will thong to the stadium to support them and believing in an ideology that has taken them here will again yield results.
Published: Fri Mar 08, 2019 03:12 PM IST